Title: Dark Hope: The Devil’s Assistant
Series: The Devil’s Assistant #1
Author: H.D. Smith
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Format: Unabridged Audiobook, 11 hrs and 9 mins
Published: May 14, 2014 (Heather D. Smith)
ISBN: ASIN: B00KC09900
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Audible
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
After five years of working for the Devil, Claire Cooper believes she lives an otherwise normal life. Until she finds herself in jeopardy for a murder she did not commit. Desperate to save her life and soul, she enters Purgatory, but runs afoul of the Devil's sister, Pagan Queen Mab. Mab has her own agenda and uses Claire to get even with the Devil. Claire learns each ruler is in a race to discover "the girl" in the prophecy to fix time. As Claire peels away clues to the real killer, she realizes she must outwit the Devil's children or end up a prisoner in Purgatory forever.
“I’d like to say it could have been worse. I’m sure lots of people hate their job, or their boss, or the people they work with. I just couldn’t relate to those people. They have options. They can quit their job, move out of town, or drop off the grid. The only option I had was a guaranteed one-way ticket to Hell when I died, and that didn’t include dental.”
H.D. Smith’s The Devil’s Assistant dark urban fantasy series is one that I’ve wanted to delve into for a long time. Earlier this year, I finally took the plunge deciding to go with the audio edition and am kicking myself for not starting the series earlier! The tale was so good that I ended up listening to the first three books back-to-back. The only reason I didn’t jump right into the fourth book right away, was that it wasn’t yet released in audio. (It has since been released in audio.) Dark Hope is the first amazing installment and the subject of this review. Claire is the devil’s assistant -but not by her choice.
This story revolves around Claire’s quest to save her own life after witnessing a murder that she will be blamed for. In doing so, she encounters troubles galore in both the human and the non-human world as she tries to solve the mystery as to who has targeted her for termination. She quickly learns that she will need to save beings she dislikes, to have a chance to save herself.
Dark Hope is told in the first person from Claire's point of view. The story pulled me in from the beginning. Claire is a savvy, smart, quick-thinking heroine blessed with innovative problem-solving skills. She doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind and to do what she feels is necessary and right - even when it puts her in harm’s way. She has in her possession some neat tools which allow her to do her job well.
Supporting characters include the three rulers in the non-human world. The Devil is one. He is a complex multi-faceted character. He is overbearing, demanding and cruel. Yet, he has a protective side too. The other two rulers are Mab and Harry. In addition, there are children of the rulers and lackeys. Some supporting characters seemed clearly to be villainous; but appearances can be deceiving.
Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from Dark Hope:
The Underworld was the place between the three realms and Earth. I remember thinking it sounded so exotic.
It turned out to look a lot like New York City.
I eyed the sheriff. “So I better be breathing when He finds me.”
“Who the hell are you talking about?” the sheriff blurted.
The postman sneered at the sheriff. “She means the Demon King. The Devil. This is a phone from Hell—the real one.”
With his nose in my hair, he inhaled deeply before putting a light kiss on my cheek. “Have you come to play?” he asked then kissed me again.
“No.” I cringed when he drew my earlobe into his mouth. “I came to help you. That’s all. I swear.”
“I’d rather play.”
“You have your orders,” Mab shouted at the guards. “To the Deeps with her.”
The men led me from the great hall, taking me along a series of corridors to the back of the castle, then winding through another long corridor and into a spiraling stairwell that appeared to have no end. We went further and further down until finally it ended so deep in the ground it felt like a grave.
My pulse quickened as we reached the bottom.
A single dark door lay ahead.
Lauren Fortgang is the narrator for the entire series. I’d never listened to any of her performances previously. She did an excellent job, capturing the essence of Claire and each of the other characters in a consistent, unique and well-suited way. Her voice was clear and easy to understand throughout and the production was professional. The story is quite detailed and there are scenes which transpire rapidly. Therefore, I did listen to some parts multiple times so as to understand what was happening. This in no way reflects badly on Lauren’s performance. Yes, the story is complicated. But, listening to it is totally worth it. Just give yourself time to go back if needed. You’ll be glad you did. Unquestionably, Lauren’s performance enhanced my enjoyment of the book as she positively brought the story to life.
The story is well-written. The pacing is, at times, roller-coaster fast and the action never stops. I had worried that the book would end with a nightmare of a cliffhanger. That worry was for naught as it absolutely does not. The ending is really good with unexpected surprises and a clear wrap-up. That said, there is a situation-that-won’t-keep-you-up-at-night which will be taken up in the next installment. You should know that there is no real romance to speak of; but, the story was so captivating, I didn't miss it.
H.D. Smith has written a fascinating and unique who-done-it tale. I pretty much loved everything about it. If you enjoy dark urban fantasies with a strong central female protagonist and plenty of plot twists, don’t miss Dark Hope.
Suggested Reading Order:
Dark Hope (Book #1)
Dark Awakened (Book #2)
Dark Forsaken (Book #3)
Dark Contender (Book #4)